Monday, April 18, 2016

Manga Series Review: Hibi Chouchou by Morishita Suu *spoiler free*

Rating: 4/5

Categorization: Romance, Slice of Life, School Drama

Series: 12 Volumes, complete

English Publication: Not available at this time

 


This adorable slice of life drama is set in a small high school where our characters meet each other upon entering and build relationships until they graduate.  It is of course character driven, with the overall theme being about falling in love and creating lasting relationships.  The characters represent all different personalities, from the painfully shy Suiren to the idol-like Atohira.  The unique aspect of this story is that both the male and female lead are shy, making the way their relationship unfolds different from other love stories of their kind. 


Let's jump right into our characters--

The Characters

Suiren 

The main female protagonist was tormented in elementary school by her classmates because she is so cute.  As a result, her best friend Aya took up the job of protecting her.  Suiren, possibly stunted by her friend's protection, stopped smiling or talking to anyone else.  Now that the two have entered a co-ed high school, Suiren is again attracting unwanted attention, but in this school they will meet someone who inspires Suiren to come out of her shell.

Kawasumi 

The main male protagonist is dedicated to his club activity, karate.  He is very skilled in the sport and is a completely different person while practicing it.  Outside of the club he is quiet and even timid around girls whom he does not know how to talk to.  He has a good sense of justice, and a healthy respect for hard work, but he seems lost when it comes to ordinary, un-regimented, high school life. 

Aya and Yuri

Aya has been protecting Suiren since they were in elementary school.  She is a no nonsense kind of girl with a mostly cynical outlook on life, but she supports Suiren's wishes just as much as she babies her.  She offers plenty of comic relief to the story along with admirable loyalty.

Yuri is a girl whom Suiren and Aya befriend in their first year of high school.  She has previously attended school with the boys and therefore makes it possible to get the two groups closer together.  Yuri aids Suiren with girly things and dating advice, as Aya has no experience or interest in those areas.

Ryosuke 

Ryosuke is Kawasumi's best friend.  Kindhearted and loyal, he comes off as the type of guy who would blindly follow Kawasumi to the ends of the earth, but the more you get to know him, the more you get to see his spine in their relationship--that, and the fact that he's kind of a lazy goof.  He values his friendship with Kawasumi and because of this he is not afraid to push back against Kawasumi's "lone wolf" mentality.  Ryosuke always wants to help those around him.

Koharu

  
Koharu is the senpai who confesses to Kawasumi, even though he is younger than her.  She is very attractive, but Kawasumi does not know what to do in situations such as these and her confession does not go as planned.  Koharu declares herself Suiren's rival and you get the feeling that she is not a girl who is accustomed to being in second place.  Surprisingly, her character is not as annoying as I had anticipated her to be, in fact, I found myself feeling sorry for her at times.


Ichi and Atohira

Ichi is Kawasumi's older brother.  He comes off as quiet, spacey, and weird--but kind.  The others joke that Ichi and Suiren are alike in their quiet weirdness, something that worries Suiren.   There is not much mention of Ichi's relationship to his younger brother.

Atohira is Ichi's best friend and frequently visits his and Kawasumi's house.  He is senpai to Kawasumi and has left karate in favor of playing baseball at his school.  Atohira is a foil to Suiren's character because he is a handsome male character who is popular with the females even though their attention is unwanted.  Atohira handles this situation much differently than Suiren.  However, whether he handles it better than her is left up to the reader to decide.  Atohira is cynical when it comes to love, especially love at first sight.  His intentions are a bit of a mystery at first, but his character really rounds off the story.  Without him it would have felt incomplete.  Especially with regards to his somewhat complicated relationship with Kawasumi. 

The Plot
This story follows these characters through their high school career.  Suiren and Kawasumi fall in love and have to learn what that means.  Neither of them are very adept at communicating, nor does either one have any clue as to how to be in a relationship.  They figure things out slowly, including how to balance club activities, friends, and rivals into and out of their life they are creating together.


I really loved all the relationships that occur between all the characters.




This was a super cute, super quick, feel-good read, yet all of the characters have stuck with me.  

I suspect that this must have been the case for many readers, because volume 12 of the manga is a nice little "closure" volume full of short chapters of whats going on after the end of the story.